Fifty authors will visit Winston-Salem for in-person events and 14 authors will participate virtually Sept. 23-26 for the 2021 Festival of Books & Authors, presented by Bookmarks.
Bookmarks, a literary arts nonprofit organization and independent bookstore, canceled the book festival in 2020 amid the uncertain times of COVID-19, but is bringing it back this fall for its 16th year.
The virtual festival authors’ events are something new for the book festival.
“This year, knowing that things will certainly be different, one whole venue will be virtual, prerecorded sessions,” said Jamie Rogers Southern, executive director of Bookmarks.
All prerecorded conversations will be done this summer, edited, then aired for the first time simultaneously on a screen at the festival and online.
The authors’ lineup for in-person appearances includes Wiley Cash, Reem Faruqi, Grady Hendrix, Kimberly Jones, Stephen Graham Jones, Kwame Mbalia, Linda Sue Park, Farrah Rochon, Yusef Salaam and Gilly Segal. Some of the virtual festival authors are Charlie Jane Anders, Ryka Aoki, T.J. Newman, Paul Rudnick and Catherynne M. Valente.
There will be five book festival venues this year in downtown Winston-Salem, about the same as in the past, stretching from Bookmarks at 634 W. Fourth St., Suite 110, to the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts at 251 N. Spruce St. The inside venues are Hanesbrands Theatre and Reynolds Place Theatre inside the Milton Rhodes Center, and Calvary Moravian Church at 600 Holly Ave. The outdoor spaces are Winston Square Park at 310 N. Marshall St. and a kid’s stage in the parking lot of Foundations Early Learning Center off Popular Street next to Bookmarks.
“The two outdoor venues will be used for all of our children and teen programming, just to allow for our youngest people who haven’t been vaccinated yet,” Southern said.
On Sept. 23, Festival of Books & Authors will open with Book Trivia at Footnote Coffee & Cocktails, 634 W. Fourth St., Suite 120, followed by a late night event with Grady Hendrix, an award-winning novelist and screenwriter.
“His most recent novel, ‘The Final Girl Support Group,’ pays tribute to and slyly subverts our most popular horror films — movies like ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,’ ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Scream,’” Bookmarks stated.
Southern said the event featuring Hendrix will be a multimedia event.
“It will be funny and like a history of horror type event,” she said.
On Sept. 24, plans are to have authors visit local schools.
“I’m not sure what those will look like just yet, but we’re working with the schools to get as many authors to visit as possible,” Young said.
That same day, there will be a lunchtime ticketed “Eat and Greet” event at Footnote, featuring author Anne Bogel, a popular podcaster.
“That will be like a journaling workshop,” Young said.
A second “Eat and Greet” with Belinda Smith-Sullivan is scheduled that afternoon at Lavender and Honey Kitchen LLC at 401 West End Blvd. Smith-Sullivan is a chef, author, food writer, spice blends entrepreneur and a commercially-rated pilot.
“She has written a new cookbook called ‘Southern Sugar,’ so it’s all about different desserts,” Young said.
At 5:30 p.m. Sept. 24, “Books and Brews” will offer conversations with two authors — Wiley Cash and Jason Mott. Cash is the New York Times bestselling author of “A Land More Kind Than Home,” and his new novel is “When Ghosts Come Home.” Mott is the North Carolina author of three previous novels, including “The Returned,” which was turned into a TV series. His new novel is “Hell of a Book.”
On Sept. 25, the festival will offer free events from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. when authors will be spread out in the five venues doing panel discussions. At 5 p.m. there will be a ticketed keynote event, featuring author Lauren Groff, a two-time National Book Award finalist and the New York Times bestselling author of the novels “The Monsters of Templeton,” “Arcadia” and “Fates and Furies.” Her most recent novel is “Matrix.”
The book festival will wrap up Sept. 26 with a final keynote speaker. Also, Bookmarks will close out its Book with Purpose summer initiative, a communitywide reading program focused on the theme of anti-racism.
A complete list of authors, books, events and locations will be available by Saturday at www.bookmarksnc.org.
Young said the Bookmarks staff is excited to be able to hold the book festival again.
“We will try to do everything we can to keep everybody safe,” Young said. “We have lots of COVID protocols in place, and we’ll be updating those as much as we can, based on CDC guidelines, government guidelines and what we can do to keep everybody safe.”